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How To Ship An Antique China Cabinet

Posted in Blog on Apr 27, 2016, tagged with antiques, furniture, how to, moving tips, shipping mistakes, special care

China cabinets hold our most precious—and most breakable—belongings. Many china cabinets are antiques that have been passed down from generation to generation, making them priceless pieces of furniture that pose unique challenges when relocating. Your china cabinet deserves the same extra care and consideration you give when packing its delicate contents—keep reading to get our expert tips for preparing your china cabinet for shipping, and what not to do when relocating your antique china cabinet.

How Not to Ship an Antique China Cabinet

One wrong move can spell disaster for your antique china cabinet. Here's an example:

When the moving truck door closed on Hector and Louise’s maple antique china cabinet, the newlyweds had that sinking feeling of knowing they’d made a mistake but couldn’t do anything about it. Boris the Mover, the driver they had hired through a friend of a friend of a friend, sported a week’s growth of beard and a stained undershirt he didn’t bother tucking into his frayed workpants. The vehicle, a box truck that looked like it had just driven through a war zone, inspired even less confidence. Just the same, Boris the Mover charged only $75, $50 less than the nearest competitor, and the couple dearly needed the extra cash. Or so they thought. Eleven days later, Boris the Mover and the china cabinet showed up at the couple’s new townhouse — eight days late. Hector and Louise were steaming before Boris opened the truck, and when they saw the cabinet, they boiled over. The once beautiful antique china cabinet, a family heirloom that belonged to Louise’s grandmother, was now little more than a pile of splintered wood and glass shards. Boris the Mover shrugged. “$75, please.” 

Of course, Hector and Louise refused to pay Boris, bringing their total savings to $125. Considering their china cabinet had an appraised value of $1,100 and sentimental value far exceeding that, it’s hard to say the newlyweds came out of this transaction on top. Louise said to Boris, “Well, at least let’s have the silverware.” Boris the Mover replied, “What silverware?”

What went wrong with Hector and Louise's move? Let's take a closer look:

  • Bad shocks caused the glass doors of the cabinet to shatter when Boris hit a pothole 15 minutes after departure … he was doing 20 mph OVER the posted speed limit, by the way.
  • A day into the trip, Boris slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting a deer. Another customer’s oak bookshelf, carelessly stacked and secured behind the cabinet, came crashing down on the cabinet, pulverizing its decorative wood trim, splitting the frame from top to bottom along one side and breaking three of the four legs.
  • A scheduled one-night stopover — at an ancient, wood-beamed warehouse where Boris planned to pick up a third load — turned into an eight-day stop. The cabinet, which had been unloaded, sat in the hot, humid, warehouse long enough for it to warp. Making matters worse, the warehouse was infested with termites — hungry ones that liked munching on antique maple.

The Right Way to Ship an Antique China Cabinet

China cabinets are delicate and valuable, and as the centerpiece of a family dining room, furniture items that carry a great deal of sentimental value and add character to the entire home. Not only is the value of a china cabinet something to consider, this type of furniture poses technical challenges for moving: cabinets are usually heavy and irregularly shaped. If they are not carefully prepped for shipment, handled with car,e and positioned properly in the truck, damage can easily occur, as poor Hector and Louise found out the hard way.

Keep these tips in mind when preparing your antique china cabinet for shipping to ensure your priceless piece makes it to your new home safely:

  • Remove or invert knobs, handles and other protruding hardware and decorative finishes (when practical) to eliminate or reduce the potential for dents, dings and other surface damage during handling and transport.
  • Cover delicate wood and glass surfaces with the appropriate materials to prevent scratching and to provide cushioning. Depending on the item, moving blankets may be enough, but there are many other packaging weapons in the arsenal for china cabinets with unique or intricate shapes — flexible foams, bubble packaging, corner posts, edge posts, scratch-resistant papers and films, etc. Read more about preparation techniques for china cabinets here.
  • Remove glass doors (when practical), wrap them, box them and label them, as well as packing and labeling the door hardware so reassembly is fast and easy. The same goes for the contents of your cabinet, which is probably as valuable as anything in your home. Do a complete, documented inventory to make sure what comes out for the move goes back in when the cabinet arrives.
  • Moving your antique china cabinet in and out is no problem. The Transit Systems team has moved thousands of cabinets, and we’ve seen it all —doorways that are too small, driveways that are too steep, cabinets that are too fragile. We’ll handle your cabinet like it belongs to us.

A Quality Moving Experience at a Reasonable Price

Transit Systems specializes in less-than-truckload, small moves. Because of our volume of business in this area, we not only have great service capabilities, but extremely competitive shipping rates as well. This means you get the best of both worlds: your antique china cabinet moved safely and soundly, with money left over to buy something new to put in it! Want more information on moving your china cabinet or another piece of hard-to-handle furniture? Please contact us today. We are ready, willing and able to get the job done for you.

"How Do I Ship Antiques?"

Read our antique shipping guide to learn how to ship antiques, including step-by-step packing instructions.

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